Written by Steve Ostermann
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 19:17
A LONG REACH helped Grafton center Jon Adamaitis launch a shot over a West Bend West player. Host Grafton rallied in the fourth quarter to win, 46-42.
Photo by Sam Arendt
Fourth-quarter rally in long-awaited home victory over West Bend West shows Grafton boys’ mettle
In the past few seasons, fourth-quarter rallies that lead to wins have been wishful thinking for the Grafton boys’ basketball team.
Overcoming a late deficit to pull out a victory was simply not in the cards for the Black Hawks’ overmatched lineups during a losing streak that extended over three years.
But times have certainly changed.
Grafton showed a new-found mettle Dec. 30 by wiping out a nine-point deficit in the final period and stunning West Bend West for a 46-42, nonconference win.
“It was a hard-fought battle, and our kids just persevered,” said Hawks coach
Kevin McKenna, whose team improved to 4-5 overall.
“Their maturity level is showing. They are all on the same page and never quit, never get down. They have a ton of confidence.”
Things looked bleak for the Hawks entering the final eight minutes. West (2-6) used a 14-8 scoring edge in the third quarter to build a 37-28 lead and appeared headed to a comfortable victory.
However, Grafton tightened its defensive screws with an aggressive full-court press and held the Spartans without a field goal in the fourth quarter. An 18-5 scoring advantage propelled the Hawks to an eye-opening win that had fans rushing the court to celebrate the first home win by a boys’ team since 2007.
There were numerous Grafton standouts in this one.
Guard Robbie Doring scored a team-high 16 points for the Hawks, and Scotty Tyler and Kevin Collins added 13 and 10, respectively.
Collins, a 6-foot-3-inch swing player, also earned McKenna’s praise for a strong defensive effort against West standout Brandon Cowie. Although Cowie scored a game-high 23 points, he had only five in the second half when the Hawks went to a box-and-one defense against him.
Senior forward Nick Scherzer had just two points for Grafton but grabbed several crucial rebounds in the closing minutes, McKenna noted.
“We had a lot of people contribute in many different ways,” he said. “Their intensity level is showing.”
Scherzer “really demonstrated his leadership for us,” McKenna added.
“He’s been through all the trials and tribulations with the program, and he’s continued to contribute. I don’t know how he was able to get some of those rebounds.”
Grafton prevailed despite shooting just 18% at the free-throw line (2 for 11).
The victory continued an impressive rejuvenation for the Hawks, who won only one game the two previous seasons.
This week, Grafton resumed its North Shore Conference schedule looking for its first league win in four years, a span that has reached 51 games.
The Hawks faced Whitefish Bay on Tuesday and will play a nonconference home game at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 against Kettle Moraine Lutheran. They were scheduled to play at Milwaukee Lutheran on Jan. 7, but that game has been postponed to Feb. 8.